In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


This is the first summer of my life, where I fed, and watched, hummingbirds. It's been rewarding; mostly because their existence is fascinating.

It's probably good hummingbirds are so small. If they were as large as a crow, their territorial fights would end with broken windows and mayhem around the yard. They don't get along well with each other, and it's not uncommon to see one become "Emperor" of the feeder, and spend almost all its energy chasing off other hummingbirds that come to feed.

Still, they give me moments of peace. When one finally comes to the feeder, and decide it's where to feed, it's comforting to watch such a tiny critter finally roost, after it's full of the sugar water I provided.

It's time for the hummingbirds to move further south, and eventually arrive at their winter grounds. Until then  I'll enjoy their antics, as they wander around the yard and feed at the feeder. Some will return next Spring. I'll enjoy them, when they return.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A New Stupidity

I might be more observant, but I doubt it.

 I find more people - mostly young - walk down the street, without any knowledge of the traffic approaching, and in the travel lane. While this is inherently dangerous, the attitude of not paying intention appears to be due to stupidity. To exacerbate this problem, many are walking with their heads down, while they examine their cell phone.

The only cure for this problem involves logical thinking. I'm afraid such efforts are becoming more difficult for too many people.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Anonymity Forever (Re-post)

I'm a little amazed on the perspective of the passage of time, as we age. Time seems to pass quickly, and the long days of youth become short days after time. 

I wrote the following story after some thoughts, and the thoughts pervaded, until I wrote them down. 

It's a repeat, but I hope those that read it before enjoy it again.


As Tia walked into the large park, she was reminded of how much she loved late Spring. The foliage was full, lilies were in full bloom and the cool morning air was exhilarating. Taking a deep breath, she relished the moment and continued on with her task.

She was a little apprehensive, since she didn’t know who she was going to meet, but she knew the park was usually full of people and she’d probably be safe.

As she continued around a short bend in the sidewalk, she found she could observe the central area, with the benches and – hopefully – the man she was supposed to meet.

He was there; sitting by the large oak, which he described. At that distance, she could only start observing the man. Slowing her steps, she decided to take her time and cautiously approach.

As she walked, she thought of the short note she received from the man the day before. She wasn’t startled by receiving something written on paper, since many had now abandoned electronic communications. They, like her, liked their privacy and felt all the laws now in place didn’t do enough to prevent eavesdropping.

Tia was successful, but she still found her success surprising. Ten years before, she would have never envisioned her life at this moment.

Fresh out of college, with her journalism degree, she’d worked at a few news outlets; only to find the work mind numbing.  Sensationalism was more important than full stories, which was typical for most news, but not what she wanted to do.

Blessed with an old printing shop, which was an inheritance from her grandfather, she started spending evenings, and weekends printing a small flyer, which she’d leave in public places for free.

Over a short period of time, she found the flyers were disappearing faster than she could put them out. At first, she thought they were just being thrown away, until a local shop owner asked to advertise. Surprised, she offered a few free ads, which led the shop owner to asking for rates and a larger space.

Soon, she had more people asking for ad space and found she couldn’t stay employed and keep publishing her flyer. Saying some prayers, and going all out, she decided to live on her meager savings, moved into the small apartment behind the old shop, and soon found she was the editor/publisher of a small newsletter that was struggling, but keeping her alive.

Some former coworkers teased her; only for awhile. She knew she was on to something, when a reporter from a large news station asked for the opportunity to post an article. They felt they were basically inconsequential at their job and wanted an opportunity to present something they found important; even if their media bosses thought it was not.

It wasn’t long after the article that her newsletter turned into a newspaper, which involved dealing with a bank, investing in new equipment and hiring people to help with distributing her paper. It was daunting at first, but she was a natural at her trade. In spite of her new responsibilities, she refused to succumb to just being “the boss” and was constantly involved with all aspects of her newspaper.

She was close to reaching the man on the bench. She could now see he was older, yet it was hard to determine his age. At first glance, he appeared ancient, but closer inspection made her think he was around 70; maybe younger.

Deliberately walking as far away from him she could, she slowed, preparing to stop, when he said: “You must be Tia” as he looked up.

“I am”

Rising slowly, he reached to shake her hand. As she took his hand, he smiled and said: “I’m pleased to meet you.”

She realized his grip was firm, yet belayed a strength she didn’t usually find in older people. She carefully examined his face and realized she still couldn’t determine his age.

His hair was gray, yet his neatly trimmed beard was flecked with brown. He had many wrinkles, yet his skin had a youthful glow and lacked age spots. His hazel eyes were clear, had no redness and sparkled when he soon responded to her gaze: “Are you finding what you’re looking for?”

Embarrassed, she replied: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude, but it’s one of those things I’ve always done. I try to gather as much information from someone as possible, and examining their face is one source that reveals more than people realize.”

He continued to smile and asked: “And, what did you gather?”

Without thinking, she responded: “Not enough.”

He laughed and motioned for her to sit.

He soon spoke: “I know you’re wondering why I asked you here, so I won’t waste your time with trivialities.”

“You can call me Ed Johnson. That’s not my real name, but it will do for now.”

Tia just sat and waited.

Ed turned, stared toward the horizon and his eyes glazed, as he started speaking; his smile now gone.

“I’ve observed many things during my lifetime. Some good, some bad and many that seemed inconsequential at the time. Mostly, my observations were of people and what they find motivating. That’s why I chose you.”

Tia responded: “Chose me for what?”

Smiling again, he explained: “First, I must give you this.” Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a memory stick and handed it to Tia.

“You will have plenty of time to examine it over time; and it will take awhile.”

Tia looked at his face, which still revealed little, and took the memory stick. Before she could ask any question, he turned away again and started speaking: “You’ll find my real name there, and my journal, with photos. “

He continued: “Years ago, while studying, I met a group of doctors that can only be described as amazing. Not only were they geniuses, I’ve never found anyone as compassionate, and devoted as they were. They allowed me to become involved with their project, with the explicit demand I kept their work secret. I agreed and was soon amazed by their discovery.”

Ed paused, while continuing to stare across the park. Impatient, Tia soon asked: “What discovery?”

Ed waited a long time before answering: “A compound that slows aging.”

Tia, feeling a little used, responded with a low “Humph”, which caused a response from Ed.

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me, but there’s sufficient proof on that memory stick, with documentation that is infallible.”

“And I’m supposed to believe you’re not a prankster, or demented?”

With a quick laugh, Ed responded: “Of course not. I wouldn’t think much of you, if you took me at my word.”

Now confused, and a little angry, Tia began to wonder why she came.

Ed, realizing she was feeling like the victim of a practical joke, placed his hand on hers and said: “I need to explain a little more. After that, you can leave to go over the information I gave.”

Still angry, Tia waited for him to continue.

With a wry smile, Ed continued: “People don’t change very much. The basic wants and desires never change, but society does. What we call evil is rarely the wish of many; it’s usually the result of manipulation of only a few seeking power, without any qualms of the harm their efforts may cause. That’s why I chose you. Your rare talents and opportunities offer what I consider a brief chance of doing something that will change the world. Regardless of the outcome, I believe my choice is best.”

Tia, now interested, was quick to respond: “So, tell me what this has to do with me.”

Pausing, then sighing, Ed continued: “What I will soon say will make you think I’m insane. I can accept that, but I have the feeling time will prove otherwise.”

Tia waited.

“I’m 150 years old.”

Quick to anger, and not amused, Tia rose to leave and said: “I knew it.”

Ed quickly grabbed her arm and said: “I knew your great grandfather. Please allow me a few more minutes”

Her anger now overwhelmed by her curiosity, Tia sat again, and waited for him to continue.

Over the next ten minutes, Ed described meeting Tia’s great grandfather, helping him establish the printing business that was eventually closed by her grandfather, and how they’d spent many days fishing on the pier that burned down when she was a child. He knew facts only the family knew, and he described the final days of her great grandmother with enough detail to make her know he was either very resourceful, or actually was present at her demise.

Turning to say something, she realized Ed had tears in his eyes.

“That was one of the saddest days in my life. I loved your great grandmother like family and her passing was terrible to watch. Cancer treatment was brutal and fruitless at that time. Your great grandfather was devastated and never really recovered from the event.”

They both sat quietly for a few minutes. Ed was first to speak: “I have this hope that the dismal future of our society will be changed by what I gave you. You have the opportunity to not only change how information is passed, you have the audience of those that can think, will respond readily and make the difference that will be required to enable a bright future for our species.”

Tia could only sit and wait for Ed to continue.

“Included in the information is the formula for the compound that slows aging. Those wonderful doctors that created the compound are now all gone, due to the idiosyncrasies of fate. The last doctor fell from a ladder last week, while pruning a tree in his yard. The rest all died accidentally, so my vow to secrecy can now be broken.”

Tia, wondering, asked: “So what is it you want me to do?”

Ed shook his head, and laughed: “I have no specific instructions. It’s all completely up to you. I have enough of the compound to last for a long, long time and will soon move to continue hiding my identity. Even if you wanted to expose me, you’ll never find me.”

Smiling, Tia could only respond with a quick: “Okay”

Ed rose, reached out his hand and shook Tia’s hand one last time: “It’s been a real pleasure and you’ll never know how much this means to me.”

Quickly, he left. Tia watched as he walked away, and soon disappeared around the bend in the sidewalk.

Tia continued sitting on the bench and stared across the park. Her mind was racing with numerous thoughts, but the one nagging thought she’d been the victim of a prank wouldn’t leave.

Whispering to herself, she said: “We’ll soon find out.”

Rising from the bench, she quickly started toward her shop. As she walked, she now wasn’t the least bit interested in the beautiful gardens and foliage of the park. She had to know and it would bother her until she did.  

Highway Stripes

Most people don't know what highway stripes signify. That,and the distance between stripes

The stripes are 10 feet long, and forty feet from nose of stripe, to nose of stripe. Otherwise, there's thirty feet between each stripe.

Years ago, stripes were painted on the pavement. For decades, a thermoplastic is used instead. The plastic arrives in bags, is heated in pots, and sprayed like paint on the pavement. As the plastic is sprayed, glass beads are sprinkled on top to add reflectivity at night. Without it, the stripes are hardly seen, and water on the paving almost completely obscures.

Stripes have different colors, but for highway markings, they are yellow and white. White designates the lanes in one direction, and yellow is used to signify the boundary between opposing traffic lanes.

Broken lines are used to indicate lanes. On a highway with only two way traffic, these stripes are yellow, since traffic flows both ways. On highways with multiple lanes, the broken lines are white.

Solid lines indicate the driver is to keep inside their lane and not cross the line. On highways with two lanes, and opposing traffic, the line on the right will be a solid white, and the line between opposing traffic will be solid yellow. In curves, a broken yellow line will have a solid yellow line adjacent to signify which lane of traffic is not to pass slower traffic. If it's on the side you're driving on, it indicates you are prohibited to pass, and the line will remain, until there's enough sight distance to pass safely. If there are two solid lines, crossing the center line is prohibited for both lanes of traffic.

On multiple lane highways, the right line is solid white, except where it follows the right side of an exit ramp. Beyond the ramp, the white line continues. Entrance ramps will have a safety "island" of diagonal stripes before the break at the entrance. The merging lane white line eventually ties into the white line in the outside travel lane.

A yellow solid line is found on the left side of the inside lane of multiple lane highways. Even if there's a large grass median, the yellow line is painted to signify the demarcation of opposing lanes of traffic.

Solid lines come in different widths. The typical four inch solid line indicates travel across the line is cautioned and only for a specific purpose. Roads with continuous center turn lanes have these. Travel is allowed, but only with caution, and the lane is never to be treated as a travel lane. Drivers are expected to only use the lane for acceleration, and deceleration, when traffic allows. These line are left out at intersections and driveways.

Eight inch wide sold lines are never to be crossed. These are found at entrances, and exits, to signify the traffic in the other lane has the right of way, and dangerous conditions are presented if a driver crosses the line. When the eight inch line is broken, it signifies a combination entrance/exit ramp, and drivers are to be extra cautions when crossing the line to exit, or merge.

Between the stripes, or on solid lines, raised reflective markers are placed to help mark the pavement at night, or in low light conditions, such as during a heavy rain. On two lane roads, the center of the lanes will have reflectors that show amber both ways. On multiple lane highways, the center line markers are white toward facing traffic, and red on the opposite side. Otherwise, if you you're driving, and see red reflective markers ahead, you're driving against traffic. An occasional blue marker indicates a fire hydrant is at that location.

If you got this far in this post, you're interested, and will notice such things as you drive. When you understand the basic rules for stripes, you begin to notice those that are worn, or missing reflective markers, which can be found scattered on the shoulder.

Whether interested, or not, the stripes on the highway are regulation markings. Failing to observe what they indicate can lead to traffic fines, or worse, a head-on collision on a rural highway, late at night.

One other thing: Years ago, an old TxDot worker asked me which lane I drove in, when going over an overpass on an empty highway late at night. I answered it depended, and he cautioned to always stay in the right lane. He further explained that someone driving the wrong direction will have a tendency to try and stay in what they think is the right lane. By staying in the right lane, the odds are they'll pass you, and you'll have another head-shaking moment to add to your list.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer Hangs On

We had a short cool spell last week, which yielded low sixties in the mornings, with highs in the mid eighties. It didn't last long, and Summer returned.

For the last week, it's been in the low to mid seventies near the coast in the mornings, and around ninety two in the afternoon. Rain is prevented by a ridge of high pressure, so the heat is hanging on.

This weather pattern will last a week, or so, but we'll get a front, some rain, and the sun won't be able to overcome the cool any longer. After that, the chilly evening will be filled with the aroma of burning leaves and the feel of Autumn will settle in.

I enjoy Autumn more than any other season. I like the temperature, the azure skies, and the brilliant oranges of sunset. I feel a contentment I find no other time of the year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Solution

We don't need bombs; we need coat hangers. Why? Because coat hangers are much more dangerous than bombs.

If we dropped thousands on our enemies, within seconds, they'd be so tangled up in coat hangers, they couldn't move. They would beg for wire cutters and never want to fight us again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust

Way back when, when dirt was still new, R.E.O Speedwagon was a far cry from the pop music that brought them fame. Gary Richrath cooked on the guitar.

He's passed. No reason was given for his passing, but at the young age of 65, there's no telling the cause.

May he rest in peace.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fire and Steel

Steel is a wonderful building material, but has a fault that designers protect against, but there's never a guarantee it will work long enough.

The fault? Heat. At high temperatures, steel changes. The material becomes plastic, loses strength and fails as a structural support. In building fires, you can see the damage in the twisted girders and columns after the fire is extinguished. Intense heat caused the steel to loose rigidity, so the weight of the structure caused sagging, with an eventual failure.

With skyscrapers, this fault is known, so exposed steel is exposed to fire proofing. The fireproofing has a design problem, too. It's usually brittle, so impacts can lead to spalling of the material and exposing the steel. That, and poor workmanship. Without fireproofing, even low heat fires can cause damage to steel.

Even the rebar in a concrete foundation will distort in fire. After a containment pit was struck by lightning, the oil in the pit burned for over an hour, before it was extinguished. The damage was something I'd never seen before. Large concrete girders holding equipment lost the outside layer of concrete, when the concrete spalled due to the intense heat. The rebar between the stirrups was sagged like spaghetti, which I found surprising. I thought only an oxy/acetylene torch could provide such heat, but my thoughts were proven otherwise. Seeing one inch rebar sagging in two foot span was something to see.

The World Trade Center Towers were built of steel, but the structures were innovative. The core of the building provided most of the strength, and the floor were supported by trusses, with the external structure much lighter.

A truss is an interesting building component, since it's composed of small steel rods, and angles, which are constructed in a lattice work to gain strength through cross members and bracing. They work,are lightweight, can handle substantial loads, but are more susceptible to heat. Heat that takes a long time to cause a large steel member to start distorting, can cause distortion in a short period of time on a truss. I've read that firefighters are aware of this, and detest working a fire in buildings with trusses for supports.

When the jets hit the towers, they immediately caught fire. With almost full fuel tanks, the fires were destined to burn for a long time. Jet fuel, due to it's composition, burns at high BTU's and the temperature increases, when aided by strong drafts, such as those found on a tall building.

It's theorized the initial crash removed much of the fireproofing on the trusses, which exposed them to the heat. Since the trusses were supporting light weight concrete, their failure would lead to the materials on the floor they supported to fall to the floor below. If the floor held, the event would have ended, but there were multiple floors above the fire.

When the floors started falling, they slammed into the floor below the fire, which caused it to fail. The added weight sheared the other floor, and the debris fell to the next floor below. Within seconds, the banging of the floors was a constant noise included in the rumbling. Firefighters that survived described the banging as the floors collapsed and the buildings fell.

I've read of conspiracy theories about the destruction of the World Trade centers, but find they don't satisfy the known physics involved. Some may find it comforting to think something more sinister was the cause of the destruction, but it doesn't fit with what I've read about, and experienced.

The World Trade Towers were a marvel of modern architecture, and engineering, but the biggest fault was always there. While planes caused the fire, a conflagration of the same proportion, without any intention would have caused the same disaster. All that was needed was fire, and time.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Trains in the Distance.

I listen to train horns daily. Over time, they're just part of the background; the horn, and rumble of engine, something not allowed to distract.

When the weather is right, and the morning is very calm, the train horn reverberates; echoes returning after brief seconds and the lonesome sound almost leading to moments of melancholy. The sound is truly lonely and leads to sobering thoughts.

When I was about 15 years of age, my grandmother died one autumn. We returned to Oklahoma for the funeral, which was surreal and my first experience with the loss of a close family member.

The night after the funeral, before I fell asleep, I laid in bed, thinking of the day, and enjoying the chilly breeze that wafted through the window by my bed. I don't remember my thoughts, but I remember the haunting sound of a train horn off in the distance. I sat up for a moment, looked out the window, and examined the yard in the dim light. A chapter ended in my life. I knew I would probably never return to the house; and never did.

So, I listen to train horns, examine my thoughts, and relive moments in my life. It's a good thing and leads to moments of solace.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Guess I Should Write More

If I had to summarize my life at the moment, I'd have to say I'm busy, or not, or have a lot on my mind, and need to write, but stay pissed off at politics and don't want my blog to be a consistent rant at the low life, puke crap, bottom feeding, thieving, lying, reprobate politicians that suck the life out of the country, have more vacations in one year than I've had in my career, and don't have a clue.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When the Real Issue is Avoided

Kim Davis is in jail because her conscience, due to her religious beliefs, prevented her from issuing marriage licenses that she would attest to, when signing. Otherwise, she didn't want to officially attest to something she might not agree with, or was unconscionable.

Some gay couples wanted a license, so they sued in Federal Court. The judge ordered her to issue marriage licenses. When she wouldn't, he held her in contempt and sent her to jail.

Some side with judge, and think his actions were appropriate. They believe the judge acted correctly in demanding Kim Davis issue marriage licenses, and sign the document.

Some side with Kim Davis. They believe the judge acted beyond his capacity and violated her rights.

Personally, I think the entire mess could have been avoided. Kentucky could have changed the form, or gone through the process of removing Kim Davis from her elected office. Of course, that would have taken time, might have not yielded the intended results, and the problem would have continued. Still, it was the correct method and those that didn't like the method could have changed it through the legislative process.

Those wanting the license, could have gone to another county. The clerks in those counties were issuing licenses to same sex couples.

So, we now have Federal Judge holding a woman in jail, without breaking any law, and he won't let her out, unless she signs marriage licenses she refuses to sign. The judge, who I feel didn't have the wisdom or experience to hold his office, now can't back down, even if his contempt order is beginning to look like a petty, arbitrary decision.

How will this end? It's going to get ugly. The radical gay activists have thrown down the gauntlet, without thinking of the perception of the public. Their rights don't supersede the rights of others, and with a woman in jail for no other reason than refusing to sign a document, their platform is shaky and they are only a very small percentage of the population. The process required by the Constitution was bypassed, judicial activism is removing the rights of other individuals, and the public is becoming angry at the audacity.

So what is the real issue? The right of an individual to determine their heirs and the automatic right to benefits allowed to heterosexual couples. That was not asking much, but Social Security benefits, and many pensions, prevent such things. Instead of changing the wording for legal rights of individuals, the entire definition of marriage was changed. I call that foolishness, but apparently, foolish behavior is common with government officials.